When I was younger I worked in a movie theater and BROADCAST NEWS was one of the films that was playing, so I had a chance to see it a number of times. I remember liking it but I think some of it went over my head. I hadn’t seen it since then, so it was with great interest to see how I would react to it as an adult.
I must say that the film is a true work of dramatic art and one of, if not the best of writer/director/producer James L. Brooks’ oeuvre.
A peek behind the inner workings of a Washington D.C. broadcast news station; we first meet the three main characters as youngsters and see how they were defined back then and how that would shape their futures.
Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is a workaholic and overly ambitious in her drive to succeed. Even though she is a pro as a producer, she is a mess in her personal life. Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) is a quality field reporter who dreams of being an on air anchor, but he’s far too neurotic and consistently blows any chance he has to fulfill this dream.
The flip side of Aaron is Tom Grunick (William Hurt). He’s handsome and exudes the charm perfect for Television. The problem is that he’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the block, but he knows it and seeks the help of Jane to make something of himself.
Jane can’t help falling for Tom’s charm even though on the surface Aaron is a better match. Of course, Tom stands for everything that Jane despises about the current trends in network TV.
This creates quite a love triangle that develops in very unexpected ways including an ending that rubbed many people the wrong way.
Brooks’ writing is simply brilliant with many memorable lines. Such as when Jane’s boss berates her and says “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room.” Jane’s reply is a deadpan, “No. It's awful.”
The acting across the board is outstanding with Holly Hunter leading the pack with an exceptionally nuanced role. Her ability to convey emotion without a single word is stunning at times. Both Hurt and Brooks embody their characters and the rest of the supporting cast is up to par with a breakout role by Joan Cusack and an uncredited role by Jack Nicholson.
BROADCAST NEWS helped define the “dramedy” which Brooks was a master of. It’s a MUST SEE MOVIE and do yourself a favor and check out the new Criterion Collection Blu-Ray which includes some enlightening extras including the original ending and an interview with the real-life news producer who inspired Holly Hunter’s character.